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More Quirky Places to Stay in Minnesota

Posted by deborahmclaren on May 16, 2011

I promised to write more about interesting places to stay in Minnesota. I’ve found a former chicken house, a Viking Inn, a light house, another old jail, a tow boat, a house boat and some other cool stays. We’re obviously gearing up for summer travel as the number of visitors to the quirky places I’ve blogged about are rising daily.

The Broodio

The Broodio

Inside the Broodio

Inside the Broodio

The Broodio, a former “brooder” house (where baby chicks are raised) is a one-room cottage that is part of a Minnesota Valley century farmstead. The simple pleasures of the prairie surround Moonstone’s gardens, arbors and vineyard. A canoe, grill, campfire, sauna and beach are available to guests.

This is a real find! The Viking Inn is Central Minnesota ‘s Nordic Inn Medieval Brew and Bed! Built in an old church by “the crazy Viking, Steinarr Elmerson” who left southern California and corporate America to follow his dream. Steinarr loves to cook and the inn offers a Viking Dinner Mystery or an interactive Viking dinner theater with raids, pillaging, burning and feasting. Rooms start at about $60 for the tiny room built in the church’s bell tower to $150 for Odin’s Den. Soap, Shoes and Viking Vear come with the room!

Runestone Museum, located in downtown Alexandria, Minnesota is not far from the Viking Inn. You can tour historic Fort Alexandria, take your picture with the country’s biggest viking, and see the world famous Kensington Runestone.

The Runestone

Built in 1892 the Lighthouse B&B in Two Harbors is a working lighthouse operated by the Lake County Historical Society. It has three spare but tasteful rooms that share one bathroom, and there’s a half-bath in the basement. The Skiff House, on the grounds adjoining the visitors center, has its own bathroom and hot tub.

The Lighthouse at Dusk

The Jail Haus Bed & Breakfast and Ed’s Museum

Wykoff is a perfect little southern Minnesota village – a perfect blend of hospitality and local flavor. The ladies of Wykoff keep themselves busy. They not only renovated Ed’s Museum, but made their historic jail into a B&B. Stay in the jail for about $68/night then go over to Ed’s Museum to view the display of 1930s lollipop tree, old pin-ups and tons of other junk. It’s also next to the Root River, my favorite place for tubing. For lovers of Americana kitsch.

The Old Jailhaus, Wykoff, MN

On the St. Croix River in Taylors Falls, Minn., the Old Jail B&B occupies an old brewery/saloon and an 1884 jail on a hill at the edge of downtown. In 1869, the Schottmuller brothers built a one-story stone structure with a cave connecting it to their brewery further up Angel Hill and opened it as a saloon, storing beer in the cave. They then purchased a two-story stable and livery, built in 1851, from the Chisago House Hotel and set it on top of the saloon for living quarters. Since its days as a saloon, the “Cave” has housed a surprising array of businesses including a general store, a chicken plucking operation, a beauty shop, and a mortuary. The Taylors Falls Jail was built next door to the saloon in 1884. It was used over the years as an ice house, a shoe repair shop, and a garage. Historian Helen White restored the “Jail” and opened it in 1981 as Minnesota’s first licensed bed & breakfast.

The Old Jail Cottage in Taylors Falls, MN

The Old Jail Cottage in Taylors Falls, MN

In St. Paul, The Covington Inn was built in 1946 as a towboat and now is moored on Harriet Island, across from downtown. Four elegant rooms have fireplaces and superb views; the two-story Pilot House suite includes the pilot house as a sitting room and has a private deck. The boat is trimmed stem to stern in mahogany, brass and bronze. Windows and portals in the boat’s tiered design draw light into each room. Sleeping quarters feature a mix of ingenious built-in cabinets with simple furnishings from the Covington’s work era. Salvaged fixtures, nautical antiques and historic art provide tasteful reminders of the River and the Inn’s past life.

The Covington Inn, St. Paul

In northern Minnesota lakes country, in the tiny village of Dorset, the Heartland Trail B&B was built in 1920 as a schoolhouse and has six attractive rooms, named for different grades. 218-732-3252.

Little old school house B&B in Dorsett

Heartland Trail or Little old school house B&B in Dorsett

In the western Minnesota town of Ashby, on the Central Lakes Trail, the Harvest Inn B&B occupies the former 1926 Trinity Lutheran Church and has four rooms. Enjoy winery tours anytime of the day. Feel free to walk around and tour one of Minnesota’s largest horse facilities.218-747-2334. Email: info@harvestinn.net

Timber Bay Lodge and Houseboats is located on Birch Lake near Ely Minnesota and the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area (BWCA). They have both cabins and houseboats! located deep in the heart of the Superior National Forest. Fish, swim, and relax as you pilot your own houseboat. Watch for eagles, loons, and bears. The houseboats range and size and from $185 to $500 a night.

Timber Bay House Boat

Stone Mill Hotel & Suites are in the lovingly restored and very posh Lanesboro FEED MILL. It consists of a limestone and wood (barn-like), building. Renovated to honor their history, the buildings are reminders of Lanesboro’s significant agriculture contribution.

Stone House Mill Hotel, Lanesboro

Stone House Mill Hotel, Lanesboro

The Palmer House Hotel claims residence to a celebrity ghost! The spirit of Sinclair Lewis, a famous local author for which the town takes pride in, is said to haunt the very hotel that he was employed as a bell boy. Sauk Centre is the childhood home of Lewis. R.L. Palmer built the current hotel in 1901. The original hotel consisted of 38 rooms and one communal bathroom. The Palmer House was considered so majestic that a special contractor was hired from Minneapolis to wire the building with electricity, which many considered a novel luxury at the time. The first paranormal conference was held at The Palmer House in 2008. Hosts of the conference was Darkness On The Edge Of Town. Seminars included television celebrities Chris Fleming and Patrick Burns and Darkness Radio host Dave Schrader.

The Palmer House, Sauk Center, MN

Well, there you have it. Please let me know if you visit any of these quirky places… or learn about more!

Posted in cultural heritage, family travel, Minnesota, museum, quite unusual, Saint Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Traveling in New Zealand

Posted by deborahmclaren on April 17, 2011

Hold down the fort! Travel Momma is on a lovely adventure down under – researching and writing a bunch of cool stories about buy-local, 100% Pure New Zealand adventures, the whole new farmer’s markets push around the country, manuka honey, a star sanctuary, and sheep… yes, lots of sheep.

I’ll be home next week.

Posted in family travel, food and wine, green travel, Indigenous tourism, Kiwis, New Zealand, quite unusual, sacred sites, travel, travel writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Quirky places to stay in Minnesota

Posted by deborahmclaren on February 12, 2011

I’ve been around the world and stayed in a lot of funky places – tree houses in Thailand, a palace in India, a boat hotel in Amsterdam – so I decided to seek out the unusual in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. Here’s some things I’ve found so far (although I haven’t stayed at all of them).

Northern Rail Train Car

There are several train inns. The Northern Rail Train Car Suites is in Two Harbors, on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It’s set on 60 forested acres just off Highway 61 (near Betty’s Pies). The rooms are housed in actual train boxcars and connected by a charming enclosed platform. The depot-style main building includes check-in, lending library and the continental breakfast area. You can rent a partial car (Porter room) or a full car. Rates vary with the seasons but are between $100 and $200 per night.

Main Lodge at MapleLag Resort

My all-time favorite place to stay in Minnesota is MapleLag Resort on the White Earth Indian Reservation (western Minnesota). It’s in the middle of a great forest and is very Scandinavian-Minnesota-like. There are lots of cabins, including some 100 year old log cabins that were relocated there and several train cars that have been renovated into cute little guest houses. Rates include skiing, equipment, a giant hot tub (seriously-it can easily accommodate 20!), and great food. There’s a huge lodge with several fire places, libraries, seating areas, beautiful stained glass windows collected from around the world, and their homemade cookies are always available.

The Switch Yard at MapleLag Resort

The Whistle Stop

Out on the west central prairie you can find The Whistle Stop in New York Mills that offers authentic train cars built at the turn of the century: dining and railroad executive cars. Cars rent from about $125 to $200 a night. There’s a cottage, Victorian Inn and tea room as well. New York Mills has an amazing little Regional Cultural Center and is home of the quirky “Great American Think-Off.

The Dreamcatcher at Ludlow's Resort - like a bird's nest!

Amphibacar at Ludlow's Resort

At Ludlow’s Resort on Lake Vermilion, the entire resort is on a Northwoods island. And they don’t have cookie-cutter cabins. Their cottages have been hand-crafted and continually improved over seven decades — and three generations of the Ludlow family. There are 20 cabins tucked away beneath the birch and pine and all are different. The Dreamcatcher, designed by SALA Architects, is unlike anything else in Minnesota. This fantastic four-story treehouse provides views of the lake and makes you feel like an Eagle in the top of the trees. They also have an Amphibacar (Northwoods 007?)! Ludlow’s is rated one of Minnesota’s top resorts. They charge by the week – starting at about $2500 and up in the summer peak season. In the spring and fall you can rent a cabin for about $250 per night (no week-long rental is required in the off season).

The "Grotto" room at the Park Street In

The Park Street Inn in Park Rapids gets a mention for their “Grotto,” which they describe as garden-level (basement) room that boasts a huge water-jet tub, a king-size bed, air conditioning, and a private bath with a waterfall sink. The grotto is completed with plants and a large stone waterfall. I have stayed there in the middle of the winter and didn’t get to see the upstairs. It truly reminded me of a place where the Flintstone’s might vacation. Rates vary from $95 to $135 for the rooms and include breakfast.

Tree House Retreat, Long Prairie, MN


Tree House Retreat

The LaVoie Tree House in Long Prairie is a hexagon shaped cabin in a tree! Set among 16 acres of wooded land owned by the LaVoie family, they built this unique guesthouse themselves. I have no idea how much it costs. I know about it through Nancy Leasman who owns the nearby Leatherwood Vinegary. By the way, if you like wineries you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that vinegar can also be as variable and tasty as wines. Leatherwood is one of the only locally-owned vinegaries in the US. You can stop in for a tasting.

Thayer's Historic and Haunted Inn!

Okay, let’s get really quirkly! Thayer’s Historic Bed n’ Breakfast in Annandale is haunted! The owner, Sharon Gammells has been an internationally known psychic for over 45 years. Sharon claims that “yes, we have ghosts, yes they visit, but, remember I live here so, NO the ghosts aren’t mean, and they are not scary, and they are not stuck, and they are not creepy.” Apparently a “Miss Lily” spirit from room 306 actually helps out during some of their paranormal classes. There are also ghost kitties.

A 2 Night Paranormal Package is $387 and includes breakfast and a one hour Psychic Reading. Most rooms are about $100 a night and if you participate in one of their scheduled Murder Mystery Dinners add another $50 per person.

Jail House Inn, Preston, MN

The Jail House Inn, originally the The Old Fillmore County Jail and Carriage House, is a National Historic Place in Preston, MN. It was built in the 1870s. The “cells” start at a very reasonable $69 and the Sheriff’s Master Bedroom and other rooms can run up to $150. It’s near the fabulous Root River – great for tubing. The Root River bike trail runs close by.

"Cell" room at the Jail House Inn

I’ll continue to find quirky little treasures and post them here. Wherever you go – snuggle in and sleep tight!

Posted in family travel, Minnesota, quite unusual, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Halloween Weekend in the Twin Cities

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 29, 2010

Looking for something chillin’ this weekend?

I’m heading to Bare Bones Theater’s all ages Halloween performance at Hidden Falls Park, along the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, MN. This year its Carnetheria, a puppet spectacle that plumbs the deep and darkest depths of a dreamlike Carnival. It’s going to be cold so we’re wearing lots of warm things and taking hot chocolate. First, we walk through the woods meeting amazing creatures and people. We find an open air theater in the middle of the woods and have a seat on hay bales. Then a spectacular puppet performance will take place in the dark woods; mysterious music provided by a live orchestra. My son, Anil, and I missed the 2009 performance so we’re looking forward to going again. Here’s
The Amazing Fire Battle!

Click here for a clip from the 2009 performance of Devoured — Spirit Puppet –Created by Soozin Hirschmugl.

As they say on their website, “Using larger-than-life puppets, shadow puppets, bike puppets, costumes, masks, song, dance, stilting, aerialism, fire artistry, and original music by a live orchestra, the BareBones Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza promises an unforgettable nighttime spectacular through the best traditions of community theater, public pageantry, and seasonal celebration.” An amazing amount of time, artistry, passion goes into the preparation, theater and music, and clean-up of the outdoor performances which are held for two weekends – the weekend before Halloween and the weekend of Halloween itself. This is a tiny peek into the magic that takes place to create these shows:

Too cold to be outdoors? Try Bomp: Bedlam Theater’s recurring dance party/caberet that will move to Nick and Eddie on Loring Park for a Halloween edition with the Moongoons (who provide ritualistic energy exchanges that concentrate the powers needed for spellcasting & party rockin. Srsly), Shannon Blowtorch, Wzz Wnshp (burlesque) and Plain Ole Bill. (10 p.m.-3 a.m. Fri. $5-$7. 18-plus.

Rainy Day Caberet

Rainy Day Cabaret (a “cryptic” cabaret) will present “Wake the Dead” the Old Arizona Theater in Minneapolis on November 4, 5, and 6th. RDC was conceived in 2007 by Joanie Mix, as a part of the 2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival, with her production of Making Dolls. RDC is a group of emerging artists who hope to provide a new and continuing form of entertainment for any level of art enthusiast. Through the use of choreography, music, video and costume design, a dark world is generated where you are invited to come and fill your open mind.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow will be presented by the Reader’s Theatre at Oliver H. Kelley Farm, Elk River MN (directions) on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Fee: $10; Reservations: required, call 763-441-6896 , Step inside the rustic barn at the Kelley Farm for a performance of Washington Irving’s horror classic “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Performances last approximately 1 hour. Not recommended for children under 10.

Join Anil and I on Friday at Matthews Park, 2318 28th Ave. S. Minneapolis for the annual Halloween Party and Parade (4-5:30 p.m) This Seward neighborhood parade is a beloved event for the ghouls in the community as well as spirits that float in from various parts of the Twin Cities. A party with games and treats follows in the recreation center. It’s free, no registration necessary – just dress up and show up! For more information, call 612-370-4950.

The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul

If you’re really daring visit any of the real haunted places in the area: The Fitzgerald Theater, Forepaugh’s Restaurant, The Caves, and the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul or The Seventh Street Eatery and City Hall in Minneapolis. Twin Cities Nightclubs has a list of Halloween parties for adults.

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!

Posted in art, family travel, quite unusual | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Underwater sculpture park in Mexico – Museo Subacuatico de Arte

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 20, 2010

La Evolución Silenciosa (The Silent Evolution) by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor

Just over 30 feet underwater in the Cancun and Isla Mujeres National Marine Park, 400 statues–each based on a real person–have been anchored together as part art, part artificial reef and part tourism. The work, called The Silent Evolution, is in the Museo Subacuatico de Arte, the world’s first underwater sculpture park.

The Silent Revolution


The Silent Evolution by Jason deCaires Taylor

The Silent Evolution by Jason deCaires Taylor

Jason deCaires Taylor, the British sculptor (former grafitti artist who grew up near the sea in Malaysia) who created the project says he built it to reduce the negative impact tourism has had on Mexico’s reefs, as well as show humans and nature living in harmony. The cement statues are part of an artificial reef that coral and aquatic plants will grow on. His other underwater art includes a sea garden in the West Indies and human under water sculptures in a quaint English garden. Go to his website to see how the sculptures look after coral have started to grow on the installations.

The Silent Evolution by Jason deCaires Taylor

Coral growing from sculpture created by Jason deCaires Taylor.

Posted in art, climate solutions, cultural heritage, Mexico, ocean, quite unusual, water | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Magic Bus Cafe

Posted by deborahmclaren on August 20, 2010

Mobile food is more popular this summer in the Twin Cities. The Magic Bus Cafe is awesome!

The Magic Bus Cafe bringing music and good food to St. Paul

magic chili dog wisconsin cojack cheese, bean chili, chopped onion 5.00
grateful dog psychedelic curry relish 5.00
soulshine dog sauerkraut, local bacon, brown mustard 5.00
mexicali dog spicy relish, sliced jalapeno, wisconsin cojack cheese 5.00
give beets a chance dog garlic beet sauerkraut 5.00
pig pen dog pulled bbq pork with psychedelic or spicy relish 6.00
plain hot dog choose either all beef hot dog or vegan 4.00

Magic Bus Cafe dogs

C

Shiny Happy People

Follow the Magic Bus on twitter!

If you look close you can spot Chris flippin some dogs in the background here on the Magic Bus – Who would have known?

Posted in Buy-local, entreprenuers, quite unusual, Saint Paul, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Carrotmob is coming to town: St. Paul

Posted by deborahmclaren on May 19, 2010

Let’s oroganize a Carrotmob in St. Paul/Minneapolis. Keep reading the blog for more information. Also send in your ideas.

WHAT IS CARROTMOB?

Carrotmob is a type of consumer activism in which businesses compete at how socially responsible they can be, and then a network of consumers spends money to support whichever business makes the strongest offer. We harness consumer power to make it possible for the most socially-responsible business practices to also be the most profitable choices. It’s the opposite of a boycott.

It’s easier to understand if you look at an example. In the first ever Carrotmob event, a liquor store agreed to invest in upgrades that made their store more energy-efficient. In exchange, hundreds of Carrotmobbers showed up at once to support the winning store. To the right is a video of that campaign, which explains the concept rather well. With over 50 events worldwide, this model is proven to work on a small scale. Next we are going to grow our network until we can apply the same method to large companies. Towards that end, we are currently incorporating Carrotmob into a new non-profit, building a team, and raising money to support a large expansion. Browse upcoming Carrotmob campaigns here.

Posted in Buy-local, food and wine, Minnesota, quite unusual, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Where the hell is Matt? Dancing Badly Around the World

Posted by deborahmclaren on May 5, 2010

An Aussie video head without a job finds a way to travel the world by dancing very badly. On his website you can learn about Matt and some of the people he dances badly with. I love the one from South Africa!  Here’s a sample from “About” Matt:

Matt has a little piece of extra cartilage sticking out on the rim of one ear and a little hole in the same place on the other ear. Since saying so on this page, he’s been informed that the extra piece of cartilage is called a Darwinian Tubercle. Matt thinks this is pretty much the greatest name for anything ever.

http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/

Posted in quite unusual, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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